REVIEW: The Meadow by Barbara Bosworth and Margot Anne Kelley
By Charles Pryor
In their most recent collection of work, The Meadow, photographers Barbara Bosworth and Margot Anne Kelley explore the connections and relationships formed between humans and the natural world. Over the course of a decade, the two have taken numerous photographs of an area of land in Carlisle, Massachusetts. Combined with Kelley’s writing, the collaborative project resulted in this uniquely-crafted work. The land they have chosen serves as an ideal subject, composed of paths and abandoned farmland reclaimed by the vibrant foliage.
Embodying a diaristic style, the final product has the feeling of a handcrafted scrapbook recollected from someone’s bookshelf. Tucked as if by accident between the pages are small booklets bearing the photographers’ experiences, and the occasional fold-out triptych which embellishes the arts-and-crafts vibe. A detailed appendix documents the numerous foliage, fungi, and pebbles found during the exploration of the meadow. They even transcribe the logs of the previous property owner, who chronicled day-to-day the teeming life he discovered on a series of wooden doors.
Towards the beginning of the book is a brief poem by Emily Dickinson called The Meadow: A Reverie, which emphasizes wilderness’ enduring brilliance and appeal through its dreamlike aspects. The photos elaborate on this perspective, presenting the wilderness as both beautiful and untamable. One particular triptych in the series features a man gazing at a wheelbarrow of plant trimmings, a small pair of cutters in his hand. Behind him remains a massive amount of brush, showing how daunting the task of controlling the wilderness can be. Other photos are taken as long exposures, capturing bars of light from the progressive movement of the sun, moon, and stars.
The Meadow is all about revisiting and reflecting. As part of their press release, publisher Radius described the book as “a meditation on the shifting perspective that occurs when one repeatedly sees the same place through new eyes.” In keeping with this theme, the photographs explore a variety of sites in the meadow during multiple times of day and seasons. Some spaces are revisited several times, tracking the changes between individual subjects. Many of the booklet stories feature guests who explore the meadow with the photographers, often providing some information designed to color readers’ perspectives on the series.
The book concludes with a passage by a friend of Barbara, D’Anne Bodman. She is inspired to write about finality by reflecting on the pets that both she and Barbara have recently lost. In her last paragraph, she writes, “Our remaining dog, Téa, and I walk Santo’s path daily so that it doesn’t disappear.” Through this passage, we are reminded of the importance in retreading paths to mark the changes, which is just what Barbara and Margot have aspired to do with this work.
Barbara Bosworth and Margot Anne Kelley are represented by Radius Books. For more information see: www.radiusbooks.org
Article © Charles Pryor
Images © Barbara Bosworth courtesy of Radius Books.